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[ahn-wee, ahn-wee; French ahn-nwee] /ɑnˈwi, ˈɑn wi; French ɑ̃ˈnwi/
a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom:
The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.
Origin of ennui
1660-70; < French: boredom; Old French enui displeasure; see annoy
listlessness, tedium, lassitude, languor. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ennui
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In a fit of generosity or ennui or something I pitch in and help.

    My Wonderful Visit Charlie Chaplin
  • You must have guessed that we should suffer, ah, so terribly, from 'ennui'.

    The Northern Iron George A. Birmingham
  • And we have in these two words the precise explanation of this feeling of ennui.

  • He had apparently surprised her in a fit of ennui which was rare with her.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • She took the purple flower I had plucked in ennui's garden in her slim, cold hand.

    Henry Brocken Walter J. de la Mare
British Dictionary definitions for ennui


/ˈɒnwiː; French ɑ̃nɥi/
a feeling of listlessness and general dissatisfaction resulting from lack of activity or excitement
Word Origin
C18: from French: apathy, from Old French enui annoyance, vexation; see annoy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ennui

1660s as a French word in English; nativized by 1758; from French ennui, from Old French enui "annoyance" (13c.), back-formation from enuier (see annoy). Hence ennuyé "afflicted with ennui;" ennuyée a woman so afflicted.

So far as frequency of use is concerned, the word might be regarded as fully naturalized; but the pronunciation has not been anglicized, there being in fact no Eng. analogy which could serve as a guide. [OED]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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